Local sixth graders learn building skills to help increase exposure to skilled trade careers

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) -- Sounds of hammering could be heard from the campus of Owens Cross Roads School on Monday and local leaders hope it indicates a future increase in the Tennessee Valley's skilled workers.

"Nationwide there is a vast shortage of skilled tradesmen," said Wade Thompson.

He is the Director of Workforce Development for the North Alabama Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., or ABC. Members of ABC and "Go Build Alabama" met with nearly 40 sixth graders at the school.

The students spent the morning building a hanging planter.  A simple project with a big purpose to expose students to more of the much-needed trade professions.

"The whole purpose of this is just to kind of open up the construction industry with some tape measuring, some building skills, some teamwork skills and things of that nature," said Thompson.

"Students are going to get more out of something like this than they would out of a worksheet or something like that," said Owens Cross Roads School Principal Scott Weeks. "That's what we're all about is trying to give kids exposure and experiences that they will retain and that they will take back with them."

The students also put some of their math skills to work measuring and calculating the volume of their new planters.

"We want to equip them with the regular schoolwork so they can do these kind of things, but then show them, this is the end result. This is why we do what we do," said Weeks.

He said the project is just one way the school is educating and empowering students on their career choices.

"We want our students college ready, but we want them career ready, as well, and it doesn't matter which track they decide to go," Weeks added.